Celebrating the genius of George Harrison

The orchestra
The orchestra

A busy summer lines up for the ten-piece All Things Must Pass Orchestra, a tribute to the genius of George Harrison.

They anticipated playing three gigs. Instead they are playing seven.

Among them are dates at Spring Arts Centre, Havant, June 2; Underground Theatre, Eastbourne, June 6; Chequer Mead, East Grinstead, June 7; The Komedia, Brighton, July 18; and Blakefest, Alexandra Theatre, Bognor Regis, September 15.

Alex Eberhard (lead vocals/guitar) said: “We have been going for five years now, and we have got a growing following. With the response we have had, it gets easier promoting the shows. There are more people that know about us by word of mouth, and we are returning to theatres that we have played a few times before and they are asking us back.

“We are a ten-piece and we have got our own sound engineer, so you could say that we are actually an 11-piece.”

The sheer size of the band brings its own challenges: “There is lots more to organise and also you have to think about the costs, but it seems to work if we can find the venues that have got the capacity to take us. It also makes a difference if you budget for the advertising. I have learnt that I have really got to invest in the programming. I am the manager of the band in that sense, but Stella, who is one of the backing vocalists, has also been organising some of the dates on this annual tour. Last year we only had three dates. The plan this year was to play three or four, but actually we are playing seven, with Stella organising three of them.”

As to whether things might grow still further, Alex says: “We have got to be pragmatic. Everybody in the band is a working musician and has got other commitments, but it does work well. We get the rehearsal dates and we work on new material. It’s like a family when we get together for the first rehearsal after a long winter, and it is a really nice feeling. But we know that we must not be too ambitious and take on more and more. But hopefully we might do a few more dates next year and expand just a bit.”

Part of the great challenge is that there is still so much more Harrison to do: “The great thing is that Harrison’s songs are not your run-of-the-mill standard pop songs. Each of them has an interest, a peculiarity either rhythmically or melodically. They just never get boring. Songs like While My Guitar Gently Weeps and tracks off the All Things Must Pass album, you can just do again and again and again.

“And this year we will be doing some songs from All Things Must Pass that we haven’t ever actually done before. There will be two new additions to the show. We get asked to do Wah Wah. Since we first started, there has always been someone asking us if we could do that song. And there is another song from All Things Must Pass that we will be doing for the first time... but we will keep that secret for the moment!”

It is all part of enjoying the wealth of Harrison material.

“He did 13 albums in his solo career and also quite a few Beatles songs. I would like to do It’s All Too Much, and I would also like to do Piggies at some point. We are also doing Savoy Truffle which is a really good song to do.”

n After three years of success at the Festival of Chichester with The All Things Must Pass Orchestra, Alex rings the changes for this year’s festival.He is bringing his new Beatles trio Cellophane Flowers for a date at the Pallant Suite, Chichester on Thursday, July 12 at 8pm.

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